Bo Naylor: Guardians 2022 Minor League Player Of The Year
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There could be a Naylor family reunion in Cleveland next year.
First baseman Josh Naylor was a fixture in the Guardians' lineup in 2022, while younger brother Bo Naylor is a 22-year-old catcher who had a breakout season at Double-A Akron and Triple-A Columbus.
Cleveland drafted Bo Naylor 29th overall in 2018 out of an Ontario high school. He spent a season at Low-A in 2019 before losing 2020 to the pandemic. He struggled with the jump to Double-A in 2021, hitting .189 in 87 games.
Naylor needed a bounceback season this year, and that’s exactly what he produced. In 118 games for Akron and Columbus, Naylor hit .263/.392/.496 with 21 home runs, 20 stolen bases, 82 walks and 121 strikeouts.
The lefthanded-hitting catcher showed why he was one of the top prospects in the Guardians' system.
“Bo continued to progress offensively with good swing decisions and consistently putting the ball in play,” Guardians assistant general manager James Harris said.
“He has shown flashes of this level of performance his entire career, but in the last year he has consistently worked with (Columbus hitting coach) Jason Esposito to understand what pitchers are trying to do to him and finding a good pitch to hit.”
That work has paid off. Naylor appears to have a clear path to earning a share of playing time behind the plate in Cleveland. Austin Hedges was the primary starter this year and is bound for free agency at age 30.
Defensively, Naylor has made significant strides the last two years.
“He’s athletic and has worked hard to improve his throwing,” Harris said. “He is amazing at building relationships with pitchers in English and Spanish, and is a good receiver.”
Guardians catchers have collectively been the lightest-hitting group of backstops in MLB the past three seasons. That means that Naylor is poised to offer offensive upside at a position of need in 2023, all while gaining valuable MLB experience.